Dinîf en Qualen
“Ada! Ada, come quickly!”
Elrond looked up from the papers he was working on and rose from behind his desk at hearing Elladan’s distraught voice. His heart contracted in anguish, hoping nothing had happened to Elrohir. Why else would Elladan be this upset?
He marched over to the window and mentally prepared himself for whatever dreadful scene would await him. Looking down into the courtyard, he gasped, seeing Erestor sitting in front of Elladan. The long, dirty cloak was open and he immediately noticed the combination of dry and fresh blood on the Elf’s shirt. “Take him to the healing house. I will join you there!” Elrond gathered his robes around him and hurriedly left his study. His brief glance at Erestor, especially at the Elf’s closed eyes, had told Elrond he had to act quickly if he wanted to keep the advisor alive.
Elrond reached the healing house first and walked over to Elladan who was still sitting on his horse. “Hand him to me.” He carefully caught Erestor in his arms when his son lowered the injured Elf. “Elladan, follow me. I will need your help.”
“But Elrohir…!” Seeing his father’s expression, he climbed out of the saddle and followed Elrond into the healing house. “Elrohir stayed with Glorfindel.”
“Why are they not with you?” Elrond was already busy cataloguing Erestor’s injuries, realizing the blood loss was slowly sending him to the Halls of Mandos.
“Amdir, Erestor’s horse, wore a harness to drag the litter Glorfindel was lying on,” started Elladan, opening doors so his father could pass.
“A litter?” Elrond frowned. He finally reached a bed and slowly laid Erestor down, immediately removing the dirty cloak and bloodied clothes.
“His legs lay at an odd angle. I think they are broken.”
Elrond sighed, worried. That meant he would have two patients instead of one! “Send a patrol to fetch them, but you are staying!” He had been teaching his sons how to attend to the wounded and needed Elladan to assist him.
Elladan left momentarily to instruct the guards and then returned to his father’s side. “How badly injured is he?”
“Did Glorfindel tell you what happened?”
“He mentioned something about a flood and Erestor getting injured in the process. We only talked for one moment. I wanted Erestor here as quickly as possible.”
“You made the right decision.” Elrond had gathered herbs, bandages and water. Using a washcloth, he removed dirt, grass and mud from Erestor’s stomach wound and then probed the injury. Erestor groaned softly, in obvious pain. Elrond’s brow knitted. “He lost a tremendous amount of blood. There is little I can do for him.”
Elladan tensed, hearing those words. “Are you saying he will die?” Elves didn’t die! They were supposed to live forever!
Elrond’s shoulders sagged. “It is possible. I know of some herbs that will stimulate his blood flow and production, but he is very weak.”
Elladan stared at his father in disbelief. “Ada, we cannot lose him!”
Elrond, who had taken the selected herbs and now dropped them into the hot water, looked curiously at his son.
Thinking about his former mentor, Elladan said, “He was a harsh teacher, but always just. He never mistreated Elrohir and I; was always friendly and respectful, but… He never gave us the same affection we got from Glorfindel and you.” Elladan watched as his father slightly lifted Erestor’s head to help the injured Elf drink the healing tea. “What can I do to help?”
“We have to clean him up,” said Elrond, “You can fetch more water and wash him. I will then bandage the wound.” He lowered Erestor back onto the bed and smoothed back the tangled mess of black hair. “We must stay close at all times.”
Elladan fetched the water, poured it into a bowl and sat down on the edge of the bed, whilst Elrond removed Erestor’s underwear. “The dirt and grime need to go.”
Elladan nodded once. After soaking the washcloth in the tepid water, he began to wash Erestor, starting with the Elf’s feet. It was the strangest thing; he had never seen Erestor wounded, let alone this vulnerable.
Elrond placed small pouches, filled with healing herbs, on Erestor’s stomach, hoping they would draw the infection from the Elf’s body. “It worries me that his eyes have closed.”
Elladan understood his father’s worry, sharing it. After wringing the dirt from the cloth, he soaked it again in the water, to which Elrond had added herbs that would hopefully sooth the damaged skin.
Elrond took up another washcloth and helped Elladan. The silence that settled down on them was comfortable, but still pregnant with worry. “Hopefully Elrohir and Glorfindel will arrive shortly. I will have to leave you alone with Erestor to tend to Glorfindel. Just sit with him, and should he regain consciousness, alert me at once.”
“I will.” Elladan pushed back the long, dark tresses to wash Erestor’s neck, when he saw something that made him frown. “Ada? What do you make of this?”
Elrond, growing curious at his son’s tone, looked at Erestor’s neck. There were thin, fading scars at the back of the Elf’s neck, and some more close to Erestor’s ears. “It almost looked like…” His voice faded away, placing his hand around the back of Erestor’s neck. “Fingernails.” The tips of his fingers now rested near the scars. “Someone’s fingernails broke the skin there.”
Both half-Elves stared at each other in puzzlement. “Why?” asked Elladan eventually.
“I do not know,” replied Elrond, whose worry was increasing. “It would explain why he never braids his hair. The plaits would reveal the scars beneath his ears.”
Elladan shivered as an ominous feeling swept through him. “I always wondered what made him this distant, so apparently indifferent. Do you think there is something in his past that—“
A terrified whimper fled Erestor’s lips, drawing their attention. Elladan finished cleaning up Erestor and then stepped back, awaiting his father’s instructions, who was about to bandage Erestor’s abdomen.
“Support him,” said Elrond, reaching for the bandages.
Elladan sat down behind the injured Elf and gently pulled Erestor’s back to his chest to steady him whilst Elrond bandaged the damaged area, putting fresh herbs between the skin and bandages.
“It will be several weeks before this injury has healed, if he survives.” Elrond gently lowered Erestor onto his back and then pulled up several blankets to keep the injured Elf warm. “I wish there was a way to replace the blood he has lost.” But a blood transfusion was something he had never done before and he wasn’t sure it would even work. “Make sure he drinks at least one cup of the herbal tea each hour. It is the only thing I can do to strengthen him.”
“I will make sure he drinks,” said Elladan, equally worried. The scars still puzzled him, and he wondered how Erestor had acquired them. When he had grown up he had felt curious, realizing Erestor was the only Elf in Imladris who didn’t wear his hair braided, but he had never asked why. Erestor had intimidated him when he had been an Elfling and later it had never come up.
Elrond rose to his feet and headed toward the doorway, as Elrohir would arrive with the wounded Glorfindel shortly. “Keep a close eye on him, make sure he drinks, and alert me if he gets worse or wakes up.”
Elladan nodded, showing he had understood. “I will watch over him.” After Elrond had left, he instinctively took hold of Erestor’s hand, hoping his father was right and that the counselor wouldn’t wake shortly. Erestor would immediately pull back when realizing the twin was cradling his hand. His former mentor had never instigated any physical contact in the past; when he had needed a hug he went to his father or Glorfindel, but never Erestor. “I do not want to lose you, Erestor,” admitted Elladan in a soft tone. Although Erestor had maintained his distance during all these centuries,, the twin had always cared about the dark-haired counselor. “Please fight.”
Elrond raised an eyebrow, seeing the pitiful state Glorfindel was in. The blond was obviously incapable of walking, but seemed extremely eager to get back to his feet. “Glorfindel, what in Elbereth’s name happened on your way back from Lothlorien?”
Elrohir dismounted and joined his father and Glorfindel. During their way back Glorfindel had constantly expressed his worry about Erestor, greatly surprising the twin with his concern.
“Where is Erestor? Will he recover?” Glorfindel locked eyes with Elrond when they lifted him from the litter. The two of them carried him inside and he repeated his question. “Tell me, Elrond.”
“I am not sure,” said Elrond calmly. “He lost too much blood. Much depends on Erestor’s will to survive and recover.”
Glorfindel bit his bottom lip when pain coursed through his legs, and he was relieved when the two half-Elves finally placed him on a bed. Elrond probed the broken bones, removed his leggings and tightly bandaged and splinted his leg after setting the bones. Some time during the treatment the pain overwhelmed him and he fainted.
“Only his right leg is broken,” said Elrond, thoughtfully. “His left knee is badly bruised, but fortunately intact. We should put him into dry clothes and then let him rest.”
“How does Erestor fare?” enquired Elrohir. “Glorfindel was rather concerned about him, which surprises me. I was under the impression they never got along.” He assisted his father in removing Glorfindel’s dirty clothes, and then they wrapped the blond in warm blankets. What the Elda needed most was rest so his healing ability could take care of his injuries.
“Erestor is seriously injured.” Elrond sighed worriedly. “You can visit him in the adjoining room. Elladan is sitting with him.”
“And you will stay with Glorfindel, Ada?”
Elrond nodded. “Go talk to your brother.” Elrond watched Elrohir leave and pulled a chair closer up to the bed, where he sat down, watching his friend. Unexpectedly Glorfindel groaned softly and awareness returned to the blond’s eyes. Elrond immediately leaned in closer and searched the sapphire eyes. “How do you fare, Glorfindel? How much pain are you in?”
Glorfindel blinked and managed to focus on Elrond. “The pain… is bearable… but tell me this… where is Erestor?”
Elrond studied him from beneath a raised eyebrow. “You do not even want to know that you suffered only one broken leg and not two?”
Glorfindel nodded once. “That is good news indeed… but I really want… to know about Erestor. Is he…” Glorfindel wavered to actually say the words. “He is still alive… Is he not?”
Elrond marveled at the emotion displayed in Glorfindel’s eyes. “He is still alive. Elladan is watching over him.”
“Can Erestor and I… share a room? I think the company… would help him… recover.”
“You are volunteering to be his roommate?” Elrond’s eyes revealed surprise. “A few weeks ago you asked me to send someone else in your place because you did not want to spend this much time with him.”
“I might have been… wrong,” whispered Glorfindel, feeling miserable. “I think I… misjudged him.” Elrond’s inquisitive eyes asked for more information and he complied. “A storm surprised us… and we got caught up in a flood... I was dragged along and Erestor came after me… probably saving my life. He bandaged my legs, built that litter… and gave me our last drops of water. He took care of me, Elrond... I never expected that.”
“That cannot have been easy on Erestor, injured as he is.”
“He did not tell me, Elrond. He hid his injury… I found out by accident, and when I asked him to stop walking and rest, he refused, insisting he had to take me back to Imladris.”
Elrond read shock in Glorfindel’s blue eyes and nodded. “Erestor surprised you.”
“Surprised me?” Glorfindel shook his head. “Elrond… he was determined to take me back, even if it cost him his life!”
“Why does that surprise you?” asked Elrond, ignoring Glorfindel’s distraught expression. “Erestor is fiercely loyal to all of us.”
“But he never showed it before!”
“You have to look beneath the face of indifference he usually wears,” said Elrond softly. “Erestor has become more distant and isolated these last few years. He was more spontaneous, friendlier when the children were still little. He might not show it openly, but he needs this family as much as we need him.”
Glorfindel considered Elrond’s words, knowing them true. “I do not want to stay in this room... Let me join Erestor.”
Elrond nodded, giving in. “We will move you shortly then. Give the twins a moment to fully understand what has happened. Erestor’s soul can still pass on to the Halls of Mandos.”
“I pray to Elbereth that Erestor will stay with us,” whispered Glorfindel, holding on to his faith in Elrond’s healing skills.
Elrohir soundlessly entered the room, immediately locking eyes with his twin. Surprised, he noticed that Elladan was holding Erestor’s hand, muttering softly. He walked into the room and pulled up a chair, sitting down next to his brother. Erestor looked too pale, too fragile, and he feared his father was right and that the counselor’s soul would travel to Mandos. “I hope he survives,” whispered Elrohir softly, catching Elladan’s gaze. “Ada thinks Erestor might not recover.”
“He lost so much blood,” replied Elladan in a saddened tone. “I do not want him to leave us.”
Elrohir placed his hand on Elladan’s. “This reminds me of when I was a child.”
“In what way?” asked Elladan.
“Glorfindel had allowed you to ride out with him for the very first time and I had agreed to study with Erestor. We had never been apart for that long, and missing you, I started to cry. Erestor obviously did not know what to do. He simply stared at me. Later, when I was put to bed, I was still crying because you had not returned yet and suddenly Erestor entered the room. He sat with me, stroked my hair and hugged me. Can you imagine how shocked I was? He had never showed any affection before. He stayed with me until you returned.”
Elladan recalled the incident. They had been children and he had been thrilled that Glorfindel would take him for a ride. He had been so excited that he had forgotten about his twin, for the very first time in his life. When they had finally returned home, he had found his twin sitting upright in bed and their father had been manipulating the shadows, using his hands to project animals onto the wall. Elrohir had been smiling and Elladan had instantly felt less guilty for forgetting about his brother. “But,” stuttered Elladan, growing upset, “Ada was sitting with you that night. Not Erestor.” He distinctly remembered seeing their father’s dark hair and brown robes when he had entered. “You mixed something up.”
“I did not,” said Elrohir determinedly. “It was Erestor. Did you see Ada’s butterfly hairclip, then?”
Elladan’s eyes suddenly widened, realizing he hadn’t seen that clip. “Maybe he forgot to wear it.”
“Elladan, we gave it to him as a begetting day present only a few days earlier. He wore it constantly to please us.”
Elladan swallowed hard. “Erestor actually hugged you?”
“Aye, and when you went to Ada or Glorfindel when you were hurting, I went to Erestor. It was awkward at first. I quickly realized he was not used to hugging someone, but his hugs became warmer through the years.”
“I never knew,” whispered Elladan, surprised. “I always thought it was Ada consoling you that night. The mere thought that Erestor hugged you stuns me. He is so distant!”
Elrohir inclined his head in thought. “I often wondered about that. He stopped hugging me when I reached majority, and became distant. It was different when I was little.”
“He never hugged me,” said Elladan, finding it hard to believe Erestor could show his emotions like that.
“When I grew older, I wondered about Erestor -- and I still do. Remember when we played at the Bruinen without Ada knowing about it? You got caught in the current and Erestor dived after you. We were toddlers back then, but I still remember the incident vividly. I was afraid you would drown.”
“Are you saying it was Erestor who pulled me out?” He had been under the impression that Ada had saved him. Dark hair had fanned around him when he had been pulled to the surface so he could finally breathe again. Dark hair, which he had automatically had assumed to be his father’s. “I did not know it was Erestor.”
Elrohir shrugged. “Erestor might hide his feelings, but I do believe he loves us.”
Elladan, still shocked, stared at Erestor’s pale face. “I never knew he reached out to you like that and saved me. What else don’t we know?” Considering his own words, he signaled for his brother to lean in closer.
Elrohir frowned when Elladan brushed back some dark locks from Erestor’s face. “What are you doing?”
“Look at these scars. Ada thinks it was fingernails that left them behind.” He mimicked Elrond’s gesture, letting his hand hover above Erestor’s neck, never touching any skin.
Elrohir swallowed hard; fingernails breaking the skin like that must have hurt. “When did that happen? And why?”
“We do not know. But maybe it is time we asked and found out?”
“Not yet,” said Elrond, carrying Glorfindel into the room. “Let him recover first.”
“Provided he survives,” whispered Elrohir in a depressed tone.
Elrond placed Glorfindel on the bed next to Erestor and stepped back after making sure the bandages were still in place. The room was getting crowded, and he signaled for his sons to follow him into the corridor, thus giving Glorfindel a chance to settle down.
Elladan and Elrohir anxiously looked at their father. “Why is Glorfindel sharing a room with Erestor?” asked Elladan eventually, still mulling over the information that Elrohir had provided him with.
Elrond inclined his head. “Glorfindel is worried about Erestor.”
“We all are,” pointed Elrohir out to Elrond, “But sharing a room? I always thought Glorfindel disliked Erestor.”
“Things are changing,” said Elrond. “Come, we need to take turns watching them. I suggest one of us remains close at all times, and call me at once should Erestor get worse. I will take the first shift.”
“I will take second,” said Elladan, beating Elrohir to volunteering. “Ada? Can I ask you a question?”
Curious, Elrond nodded his head. “What do you want to know?”
“Who saved me when I nearly drowned in the Bruinen?” Seeing Elrond’s puzzled look, he added, “When I was a child?”
Elrond recalled the incident Elladan was talking about. “Erestor dived in after you. Why are you asking?”
Elladan swallowed hard. Why had he been convinced it had been Elrond? “And when Glorfindel took me out riding that very first time, did you console Elrohir?”
Elrond’s frown deepened. “Erestor did.” Elrohir had only told him later that Erestor had soothed him. Elladan’s questions were beginning to worry him. “Why bring this up now?”
Elladan was too ashamed to admit he had thought it had been his father in both cases and lowered his eyes, staring at the floor. “It is nothing.”
Elrond didn’t really believe that, but lacked the energy to pull everything out of Elladan. He had two patients to worry about. “Make sure Amdir is taken care of.”
The twins nodded and left. Elladan exchanged a look with his twin and whispered, “I really thought it was Ada on both accounts.”
“We were young,” said Elrohir, trying to reassure his brother. “Do not worry about it.”
“I always thought Erestor did not care and now I find out he saved my life and he was there for you when I was not.”
“Elladan, let it go,” advised Elrohir. “He will need us during his recovery and the last thing you should do is feel guilty about something that happened when we were children.”
Elladan nodded, but still wasn’t convinced. He felt like he had truly misjudged Erestor.
Beta read by Ilye, thank you!
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